X {Ex parte}

Bruges First Instance Tribunal, X, 14/1508/B, 23 November 2015

The Tribunal examined a request of a man of Palestinian origin seeking recognition as a stateless person. Since statelessness presupposes an absence of ‘nationality’, and ‘nationality’ in turn necessitates a connection between an individual and a ‘State’, the Tribunal needed to determine whether Palestine qualified as such. Starting from the four cumulative conditions of the 1993 Montevideo Convention, the Tribunal accepts that Palestine fulfils the requirements of a permanent population and a defined (even if fragmented) territory. By contrast, it is less clear whether the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) qualifies as an ‘effective government’, since it only has limited powers and Israel still controls their airways, external borders, territorial waters, national registrations, taxes and functions in the government itself. In any case, according to the Tribunal, fulfilment of the Montevideo criteria is ‘manifestly meaningless’ if the Palestinian State is not internationally recognized. As a significant number of countries, including Belgium itself, has not recognized Palestine as such, the Tribunal cannot under present circumstances establish the exisence of a sovereign Palestinian State. It follows that the applicant cannot be seen as having the ‘Palestinian nationality’ and must be regarded as being stateless.  

Rb. Brugge 23 november 2015, T.Vreemd 2016, afl. 2, 223.
AGENTSCHAP INTEGRATIE EN INBURGERING, “Palestijnse nationaliteit wordt niet erkend, staatloosheid dus niet uitgesloten”, T.Vreemd 2016, 509-510.

M.-N.F., I.S. et al. v Kingdom of Belgium, M.L. et al.

Brussels First Instance Tribunal, M.-N.F., I.S. et al. v Kingdom of Belgium, M.L. et al., Nr. 04/4807/A, 8 December 2010

In the early days of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, an estimated 2.000 men, women and children were massacred when a Belgian contingent of the UNAMIR peacekeeping operation abandoned the school facility where these persons had sought refuge. Several relatives of the victims brought  proceedings against the Belgian government and three former officers of the Belgian ‘KIBAT’ contingent seeking compensation. In its interlocutory judgement, the Court dismisses objections that the claims had expired. In addition, the Court asserts that the decision to evacuate the ‘ETO’ school facility was taken under the auspices of the Belgian government and not UNAMIR. Furthermore, the Court emphasizes that the defendants could not harbor any illusions as to the fate that awaited the refugees upon the withdrawal of the Belgian peacekeepers, and that the Rwandan refugees had lost a chance of survival as a result of the retreat of KIBAT.

C. RYNGAERT, Oxford Reports on International Law in Domestic Courts, 2010, 1604.